Moroccan Garbanzo Bean Stew

by formerchef on May 24, 2010

Post image for Moroccan Garbanzo Bean Stew

Most chefs, like fashion designers, are easily influenced and inspired by those who have gone before them and by the greater world around them. We learn, we adapt, we modify and improve upon the food we eat and even read about. We’re inspired by our environment, our location and even the weather. Basically, like fashion, there is very little “new” in the cooking world unless you are someone like Ferran Adria whipping up a liquid olive in a fit of molecular gastronomy. Cooking is reinterpreting the basics, over and over, in new combinations, to keep it interesting.

When I was looking for ideas for vegan dishes to make during the 21 day cleanse I did a few months ago, I came across dozens of recipes for soups/stews made with garbanzo beans (a.k.a. chickpeas). This recipe is not any one of those in particular, but certainly influenced by many of them. Nor is it “authentic” Moroccan cuisine, but rather inspired by the spices and ingredients commonly used in Morocco. I’d love to say it was inspired by my travels to Morocco, but alas, my two days there in 1999 were not much more “authentic Morocco” than going to Tijuana is “authentic Mexico.” I actually don’t remember much special about the food in Tangiers, but that just makes me want to return to see (and eat) more of Morocco some day.

This stew is hearty and filling by itself and because of the garbanzo beans, has plenty of protein. One half cup of garbanzos has 110 calories and 6 grams of protein. The recipe below is completely vegan, though I’ll admit I served it with some home made sausages (cooked on the side) which were a nice accompaniment. I also highly recommend you serve it with cous cous which is one of the fastest and easiest things to make (5 minutes from pot to plate, seriously).

How to Grind Cardamom:
The recipe calls for ground cardamom, and if you have some whole cardamom pods, it’s worth the extra time it takes to get the seeds out and grind them yourself. The fragrance is nothing short of incredible and blows the doors off the stuff in the bottle.  Instructions below.

Clockwise from top left; Crush the pods until they break apart. Pull out the seed covers until you have nothing left but the tiny black/brown cardamom seeds. Grind them in a spice grinder until fine.
2 Tbsp Cardamom Pods=1/2 Tbsp Cardamom Seeds=1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Many thanks to the lovely Chef Gwen Walters who enlightened me to this process in her blog post about cardamom. I filed it away in my head and knew I’d use it someday. Again, we are influenced by what we see.

Moroccan Garbanzo Bean Stew

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 10 Cups

Serving Size: 1 Cup


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. cardamom, ground
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
  • 1 tsp cumin, ground
  • 1/2 tsp paprika, ground
  • 1 tsp chili pepper, ground
  • 1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes and their juice
  • 2 cans (15 oz each) garbanzo beans (a.k.a. chick peas)
  • 3 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock or water)
  • 1 lb zucchini, cut into 1-2" chunks
  • 4 oz dried apricots, diced
  • 1/4 cup green olives, pitted and chopped
  • 2 cups (packed) fresh spinach
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat a large pot (6 or 8 qt) and add the olive oil. Cook the sliced onions over a medium heat until soft and add the minced garlic. Add the ground cardamom, cumin, paprika and chili pepper and cook 2 minutes.
  2. Add the can of diced tomatoes, the garbanzo beans and the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes and then add the diced zucchini, the chopped dried apricots and the green olives. Cook until the squash is tender.
  3. Before serving, fold in the 2 cups of fresh spinach and cook until the spinach wilts. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with cous cous.


*I used ground chipotle chili *I would have used fresh tomatoes if they were in season. *You can use dried garbanzos, just soak and cook them first. * If too much of the liquid evaporates near the end of the cooking process, just add a little more stock or water and bring back to a simmer.

1 Angrboda May 24, 2010 at 7:08 am

That looks absolutely awesome! I’ll have to try that one.

2 Chef Gwen May 24, 2010 at 8:22 am

That looks so delicious and healthy. Something I could use after devouring 3 weeks worth of pasta 😉

3 Charles G Thompson May 24, 2010 at 10:42 am

Garbanzos are a favorite legume of mine so will be trying this recipe. And I like what you say about cooking being reinterpreting the basics. So very true. Thanks for the cardamom tip too. Nice post!

4 jacqueline church May 24, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Looks beautiful. We are a zucchini-free household so I’ll have to save it for when husband is working late and I’m on my own for dinner! These rich flavors would be delightful. Like many Indian and Mediterranean dishes you would probably not notice it was meat-free!

5 formerchef May 24, 2010 at 12:24 pm

True. This dish makes it very easy to eat meat free and not notice. You don’t have to only use zucchini, you could sub a different squash if your husband is willing to eat it. You might have to cook it longer if it’s a hard squash. Another option would be to use potatoes in place of the squash.

6 jacqueline church May 24, 2010 at 12:56 pm

Yeah – I was thinking about substitutions. He’s pretty much got Squash PTSD from his mother’s early forays into gardening. Imagine eating squash 24/7 for a year…?

But I do follow your advice generally on the issue of substitutions. Often will pick a recipe for a flavor profile, and then use what I have on hand that works, and hopefully is true to that recipe’s tradition or culture.

Happy eating!

7 Jennifer @ maple n cornbread May 24, 2010 at 5:07 pm

I lovveeee the flavours in this beautiful stew!!! and with chickpeas to boot! a winner 🙂 🙂

8 Myra May 24, 2010 at 6:02 pm

I just made this for dinner –wow! It was hearty, healthy, full of flavor and the perfect cure for a cloudy day in May.

9 Myra May 24, 2010 at 6:14 pm

Forgot to mention, I don’t have a spice grinder so I popped the cardamom seeds out of the pod, put them in a thick plastic bag and let my 3.5 year old go at it with his wooden hammer. Worked wonderfully.

10 formerchef May 24, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Myra- That is BRILLIANT! Way to work it out!

11 Sharon May 24, 2010 at 7:29 pm

To Myra: I laughed til I cried–necessity is truly the mother of invention.

12 Chez Us May 24, 2010 at 8:05 pm

Oh, I love this. Thank you for reminding me of this dish. I make something similar but have not made it in years. I learned it from the mother to a guy I use to date, they were French & from Morocco – one of my favorite things (and maybe one of the only things) from that relationship. HA! Anyhow, she never put cardamon. I love cardamon and will definitely be adding it next time I make this.

13 Chez Us May 24, 2010 at 8:07 pm

Okay, I just read Jacqueline’s comments – too funny! L does not like zucchini either. I make him eat it! It is good for him. I did make some pancakes the other day & he actually loved (okay maybe like) them!

14 Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen May 25, 2010 at 8:08 pm

This looks great! Anything with chickpeas and Moroccan spices is perfect for my tastebuds!

15 Cherine May 26, 2010 at 9:19 am

I love beans, they’re so good and versatile. Your stew looks so tempting!

16 Katharine October 11, 2010 at 6:25 pm

This was fantastic! Lovely blend of flavors. I made a few substitutions for things I didn’t have on hand. No apricots, so I used dates. That worked really well. I used chard for the spinach because we happened to have chard from our CSA begging to be used. No olives in our cupboards, so I left them out. My husband liked it too, so it’s going in the “favorite recipes” file. Thank you!!

17 Valerie July 26, 2011 at 6:43 pm

Made this tonight for dinner- very nice indeed! We did change the spinach to beet greens and their chopped stems, as we had those on hand. Used chili powder, not the chipotle, and served it over brown rice topped with yogourt.

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